MANILA, Philippines – On August 19, police were investigating a Hong Kong couple’s claim that their Filipina maid stole from their apartment. While police were there, the maid jumped from the 16th floor of the King Street building.
The South China Morning Post reported that a friend of the couple caught the maid sifting through her handbag. But when police asked how much money was in the bag, the friend couldn’t say. Because of this, the police didn’t find any reason to charge the maid. But despite the finding, the couple still insisted on firing her.
Police said that while she was packing her bags, she got emotional and jumped.
Mental health issues are common among domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Foreign domestic workers are required to live with their employers 6 days a week under Hong Kong law. This law – first imposed in 2003 – however, has been widely criticized by migrants’ rights activists. Maids not living with their employers can be arrested.
The mandatory live-in policies have come under scrunity after several brutal cases of domestic worker abuse came to light. The policy is attributed to leaving foreign domestic workers vulnerable like in the case of Erwiana, an Indonesian maid who was physically abused by her employer, according to a story in the Jakarta Post.
Hong Kong lawmakers say the 2003 law aims to prevent domestic workers from “moonlighting” or working part-time for other families. But Eman Villanueva, vice-chairman of the Filipino Migrant Workers Union, ties this instance of a domestic helper committing suicide to the policy. He told SCMP that living in the home of their employer 6 days a week can get stressful and lonely.
He added, “Speaking to someone about it is the first thing to do. They are working in the flat 6 days a week and this is very stressful.” He encourages distressed workers to seek help through NGOs and other migrant advocacy organizations. – Rappler.com
Migrants in need of mental health or social services can contact the Mission for Migrant wokers.
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